The next morning, reeling from the pain from his arms that were full of bite marks, Qin Ye met up with Mi Gaozhu once more.
His unit was more formally known as the People’s Armed Police Force, Internal Security Division. This unit had a wide ambit of authority, and it was responsible for a variety of tasks, including apprehending suspects and targets, undertaking urban armed patrol tasks, safeguarding key installations, dealing with emergencies, maintaining national security and social stability, supporting national economic development, executing search and rescue tasks, and even engaging in disaster missions.
Generally speaking, such Internal Security Divisions only exist in provincial capitals and special administrative regions. After all, their primary function was to maintain the internal security of the city. One might even call them a city’s own forces.
Mi Gaozhu was already 40 years old. As the Deputy Chief of the Internal Security Division, he bore the rank of a colonel. Dressed in his formal military uniform, he personally escorted Qin Ye to the car.
This car was naturally driven by a police officer of a lower rank. Soon, they arrived at the building of the Internal Security Division.
The front of the barracks bore the national insignia of Cathay. Its interior was spacious, with the flag flying high in the center of the courtyard, and with trees lining both sides of it. From time to time, one could hear vibrant chants of soldiers, followed by the rhythmic sounds of orderly marching and running. Occasionally, one could see a car bearing a military licence plate driving along the roads.
Every single soldier they passed by would halt whatever they were doing and salute Mi Gaozhu with reverence and awe. After all, he was a colonel, and he was likely going to be the next Chief of the Internal Security Division.
“My office is located on the 4th floor, at Room 412. There’s a sign there indicating that it’s the office of the Deputy Chief. It’s quite easily recognizable.” After walking for about ten minutes, Mi Gaozhu pointed towards a modern-looking building and smiled, “I’ve taken the day off to take you about your business. The archives of the Special Investigations Department are connected directly to ours, and we can access everything save for the files requiring the highest level of clearance. After all, we’re oftentimes the first ones on site in the event of any supernatural incident.”
Qin Ye nodded, “The highest level of clearance?”
“That’s right. That usually pertains to large-scale supernatural events such as incidents that were witnessed by an entire city or county. These would include the ones for which the government had no choice but to come up with special reasons such as special weapons testing or factory explosions to explain the anomaly. There are also events considered to be so horrific or bizarre that the Special Investigations Department has basically determined that it’s not in our interest to know any more about these things. Either way, we’re not able to access the files requiring the highest level of clearance.”
They chatted casually as they made their way up to the 4th floor. It was still business hours, and the barracks was naturally filled with people who were rushing about on their duties. He opened the door lightly and made a gesture of invitation towards the table. Thereafter, he sat on the couch and began to scroll through the contents of his cellphone.
Even though Qin Ye was a benefactor to his own family, it still remained a part of his duty to the nation to at least be around while Qin Ye was searching through the records.
Naturally, Qin Ye didn’t say much more. The computer in his room had clearly been modified, and it would only be unlocked when Mi Gaozhu brought his phone in close proximity with the computer. Furthermore, it had an operating system of its own, different from those which were readily available for consumer use. That said, it was easy to use, and the functions were clear at a glance. Soon, with Mi Gaozhu’s aid, he opened the portal linked to their internal database.
It was a green-coloured site.
And it was called “Sharpshooter”.
It wasn’t fanciful by any means. It bore the background of the national insignia, and a thumbnail of the soldiers of the navy, army and air force saluting the national flag lay on both the left and the right sides of the screen. The contents of the screen were set out against a white backdrop, and the functions of each link were easy enough to understand.
Qin Ye browsed the site for a little while. The forums had many users and a commensurate number of posts, but the number of responses were much fewer in comparison. Following Mi Gaozhu’s instructions, Qin Ye found his way to an “Archive Search” tab in a drop-down menu on the upper right corner of the screen. But when he clicked on it, a message prompt showed up.
“Insufficient browsing privilege.”
There was nothing else.
That doesn’t make any sense! I didn’t even attempt to access the archives requiring the highest security clearance…
“You’ll need my fingerprint to access this database.” Mi Gaozhu smiled and pressed his finger against the right corner of the screen. Five seconds later, the message prompt changed abruptly, “Colonel Mi, welcome back to the Sharpshooter.”
Whoosh… At once, a map of Cathay appeared right on the screen.
With that, Mi Gaozhu returned to the sofa on the side, allowing Qin Ye to browse through the archives as he pleased. Meanwhile, Qin Ye turned to inspect the map of Cathay on the screen. The east and southern coast of the map had now turned mostly green with a tinge of yellow. The western part of the map was still largely yellow with some areas of orange. That said, there were still a few provinces that were tainted with a deep red hue. To this end, he was at liberty to bring his mouse over any region of the map, and the mouseover action would bring up more details about each region. From there, he could scroll up to zoom further into the map, until he could even see the exact details of each location with high resolution, down to the streets in the remotest county!
“Since when did our army become so tech-integrated?” Qin Ye sighed in exclamation. Then, he brought the cursor directly over Northriver Province.
It was a province that was almost entirely green in colour.
Then, he clicked on it.
Whoosh… As soon as he did, a short clip played, giving a brief introduction of the supernatural incidents in Northriver Province. At once, the bird’s eye view of multiple cities within Northriver Province slowly emerged from the surface of the map, and the male narrator spoke in a deep voice, “What you see now is not the world you’ve imagined. Every moment, and every second of our lives, unseen things are happening all around us.”
“Ten years ago, our nation was afflicted with a tide of supernatural incidents. Within the first month of this incident, the nation managed to establish a well-reputed line of defense at the northern part of Northriver Province, between Shimen and Skyford City. This great line of defense was the culmination of the joint efforts between Yan Capital and Skyford City.”
“For the last ten years, no Yin spirit Hellguard-class and above have managed to set foot north of this defense line. The headquarters of the Special Investigations Department is located in Yan Capital, and the Special Investigations Department has watched and maintained this defense line with great vigilance over all this time. And the one who has made all of this possible is none other than one of the three strongest experts in the nation, General Lei Jun.”
“Our comrades are all doing their best to resist the ever-growing tide of netherworldly forces. If you’re willing to join this cause, please scan the QR code and download the app, and we will verify your particulars and get in touch with you. Be prepared to open your eyes to a whole new world out there.”
To think that they’ve even developed an app for these purposes.
A minute later, the clip vanished, revealing a map of Northriver Province. Qin Ye immediately clicked on the map of Kalgan City.
That’s where the Yin Mountains are located!
Whoosh… The screen instantly zoomed in onto Kalgan City, and the background immediately transformed into a thumbnail of Kalgan City, together with dozens of small video thumbnails below with lines of words above them.
“Chunhua Street Ghost Sighting… Spring Blossoms Kindergarten’s Missing Dean? Hunting Zone D-3219…” Qin Ye scrolled through the videos one by one, and then suddenly frowned.
There were very few videos.
Yin spirits might not possess any spiritual awareness, but their instincts would tell them where they could go, and where they couldn’t. Few would deign to even venture beyond the great defense line formed by Yan Capital and Skyford City. Thus, most of these incidents had been triggered by local born and bred Yin spirits. However, the incidents were few and far between.
He continued scrolling through the various thumbnails, reading the description of each incident. There were practically no casualties, and the incidents were generally so mild that any incident resulting in injuries would already be considered serious news. Next to the rest of the nation, the people of Northriver Province could practically be described to have led an insular life, just like the flowers living in the greenhouse. There were no more than 200 reported supernatural incidents!
And this was not just the figure in Kalgan City, but inclusive of all other lesser cities within Northriver Province!
“That shouldn’t be the case…” He frowned and clicked on Chonggu County where the Yin Mountains were located. But no matter how much he searched, there were only eight reported incidents in that county, and they were all hardly wide-reaching in nature.
If Ghost King Zhao was truly hiding in this place, shouldn’t it be tainted completely red in colour? His Yin energy would alone be sufficient to trigger massive changes to the mortal realm, wouldn’t it? He finally set the mouse down and rubbed his throbbing temples.
He wasn’t able to bring the Harken along into this building today. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have hesitated to ask the Harken for further clarification right now.
He scanned the screen carefully for any clues that could give him a better understanding of what was going on. And it was only then that he noticed that the upper right corner had three options: “text only”, “chronological order”, and “sort by danger levels”. He tried each of these options, but unfortunately, none of these changed the lack of information pertaining to the Yin Mountains.
Or could it be that… the files pertaining to this place require clearance of the highest level? I can’t access those files even with the access privileges granted to Colonel Mi? His eyes flickered wildly, but he immediately rejected that possibility - No. That’s impossible. Looking at the records here, I can see that there are still more than 100,000 citizens living here in the county. If large-scale supernatural incidents had been detected here in this place, then they would already have evacuated the citizens a long time ago. Besides, large-scale supernatural incidents are generally defined as incidents that can even affect a large district. How can things be contained in a mere county like this?
There’s something strange about Ghost King Zhao’s condition right now. Otherwise, he wouldn’t possibly be away for such a long time. With his strength, he would certainly have sensed the changes in Hell. And if he had to go about on leisure, he would most certainly have brought the initiation module of the second generation Forbidden Art with him. After all, the consequences of losing something like that could potentially be unthinkable.
But unfortunately, the truth of the matter was that the initiation module of the second generation Forbidden Art had been left right there in the chamber, and Temujin’s soul was also missing at the same time. Likewise, Ghost King Zhao had vanished for some time and failed to return to his post. It was for this reason that both the Harken and Qin Ye had come to the unanimous conclusion that something must have happened to him.
And if something had gone wrong, could he still have manipulated his Yin energy as freely as this? Even if he was trying his best to conceal his Yin energy, he would still inadvertently turn the entire Chonggu County into a nest of ten thousand captive ghosts. We’re talking about a living Yama-King after all! Besides, there shouldn’t be anything wrong with our assessment of the situation. So, then, what am I supposed to make of the situation in Chonggu County?
He tapped the mouse softly, and then looked back up at Mi Gaozhu, “Are you able to connect to the internet from here? And by that, I mean the forums accessible by the Special Investigations Department.”
“Certainly.” Mi Gaozhu walked over and clicked on a program on his desktop. And as soon as he did, a search engine that Qin Ye had never seen before appeared on the screen. Without any hesitation, he immediately typed in the words “Yin Mountains”.
At once, he was directed to the home page of the Special Investigations Department, the Auspicious Omens website.
This is the website that Principal Li had created back then…
Unfortunately, Qin Ye was hardly in the mood for reminiscing in the past. He immediately looked into the search results, only to realize that… there was not a single piece of relevant news!
He didn’t say anything. Instead, he carefully scrolled through the search results. 1 page… 5 pages… 10 pages… 15 pages… It was only after going through 20 pages of search results that he finally sighed softly and leaned back into his seat with his hands on his abdomen. Then, staring blankly at the ceiling, he murmured softly to himself, “That’s not right…”
“The archives reveal that there are supernatural incidents sighted in the Yin Mountains. There should be at least some news of these sightings here on the Auspicious Omens website. Given what I understand of the practice of the mortal realm, as soon as they receive reports of a supernatural incident, they would usually monitor them closely, and only close the file after a few years, particularly since most supernatural incidents have potentially far-reaching consequences. At the same time, the lesser supernatural incidents would be ideal for training the young sprouts in the Special Investigations Department.”
He interlocked his fingers and continued murmuring to himself, “The First Academy of Cultivators isn’t the only institution that is training the next generation of cultivation experts. There are all sorts of sects, schools and institutions out there. The First Academy of Cultivators was only the first one to open its door to all students, regardless of their faith, practice and inheritance. Would the sects here in Northriver Province so easily give up on the site where a supernatural incident had been reported? Especially since supernatural incidents are already so few and far between to begin with?”
“So long as people head down to investigate these places, I’m sure it would be reported on the Auspicious Omens website. Unfortunately, the records are completely clean, almost as though they had been artificially erased. It’s unbelievable!”
He lowered his head and stared at the screen, “Something must have happened there… but… where do I begin with these investigations?”
“Do I… really have to meet with the leaders of the Special Investigations Department again?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter